For 110 years, the Australian Dental Association of WA has been supporting West Australian dentists as they look after the oral health of the community. We spoke to four members to find out how our association has supported them.
Dr Andrew Bochenek joined ADAWA more than 40 years ago, shortly after he finished his time as a serving Dental Officer in the Royal Australian Navy. “My time in the services showed me the value of camaraderie and the sharing of knowledge, which being in the presence of like-minded individuals gave,” he says.
“It seemed only sensible to seek that same advantage by joining an association to further my networking with other dentists. At that time, the ADA was the major source of CPD for the dental profession and, being a dentist with only a few years’ experience, I was hungry for more knowledge to better my skills and give my patients the highest standard of care possible. The ADA conferences were massive events that drew the whole profession.
“The regular ADAWA meetings, back in that small house in Altona St, West Perth, were very convivial. It was a happy place to be and led to me join the many affiliated societies in the various specialities, opening the world of dentistry to me. In more recent years I have seen the transformation of the Havelock St site into the amazing venue and resource it is. We should be proud of the foresight of those who guided us in those earlier years, and also the more recent ADAWA executive members who have developed this building into this incredible centre.”
Andrew says over the years, ADAWA has given guidance through the many challenges that have confronted the profession. “I remember the HIV-AIDS crisis and the infection control guidelines that arose from that,” he recalls. “It took me from a wet-fingered, mask-less dentist to the gloved and masked profession we have become, with infection control guidelines that should make us very proud, even more so now in the COVID-19 crisis, where I constantly find myself referring to the ADAWA Facebook page to keep abreast of the correct protocols.
“I have found the ADAWA office and CEO have been valuable in the business of dentistry for me, helping with HR matters, something that never was my forte, but with their assistance I feel comfortable that all my dealings with staff are fair and proper, giving me a happy workplace.”
Andrew adds he has met many wonderful people, both on the ADAWA staff and those who are members.
“I am proud to be a member of the ADAWA and long may the association continue to give the profession all the advantages it has in its portfolio.”
Dr Lahiru Chandraweera decided to become an ADAWA member as a first-year dental student. “It was encouraging to see a strong support network provided for this profession that not only catered for all aspects of clinical work but looked after the members in terms of their CPD, insurance and guidance in all aspects of dentistry,” he recalls.
Throughout his career, Lahiru says ADAWA has been very helpful in a wide range of ways. “This includes numerous phone calls to Dr David Hallett with regards to general dental queries, reviewing employment contracts and a general ear to listen. They are always happy to help and give their precious time to sit and listen to all the members.
“ADAWA President Dr Amit Gurbuxani has gone
above and beyond, to organising additional lectures when we were students, to helping me with advice when I was purchasing a dental practice (Hills Family Dental Practice).
“ADAWA Former President Dr Kang Kim was a crucial part of my mentoring when I first graduated and he went well beyond teaching me all aspects of dentistry,” he adds. “I am forever grateful for the strong foundations he placed.
“I have also attended numerous CPD courses that ADAWA has organised, which have helped me grow as a dentist and improved my clinical skills.”
Lahiru believes ADAWA members are the luckiest of all the ADA branches. “I doubt there are many places where you can give the CEO or the President a call when you need assistance and not only do they help you but know you on a personal level,” he says. “The COVID-19 pandemic truly demonstrated how much ADAWA does and the extent they put their own personal lives on hold to help each and every member. It’s an organisation where they actually make a difference to their members, and not just an affiliation.”
Dr Parnian Zareie is an engaged member of ADAWA – she recently joined the Recent Graduates’ Committee to assist in organising the popular New Practitioner Program and Young Dentists’ Conference.
“I decided to join the committee because I wanted to do more with my career than just be a clinician,” Parnian says. “I am particularly passionate about making everything more accessible for new grads, as the world of CPD and dentistry can be quite overwhelming when you first get out. I have really enjoyed being part of the committee so far and think we are making some good progress on upcoming projects!”
Parnian’s alignment with ADAWA goes back to her student days, when she was awarded the Australian Dental Association of WA prize for excellence in leadership in dentistry.
“I was always very involved in the student committee,” she recalls. “This meant that I was able to make connections with ADAWA and the dental industry that perhaps would not have been available to me otherwise.
“The support from ADAWA has been a blessing for me,” she adds. “They feel like a dental family to me, and I love that everyone is so accessible and willing to help. It’s really important in a dental world, where within the work itself, you can feel quite isolated. I also really enjoy all the ADAWA events and mingling with other members.”
Parnian says being an ADAWA member means being part of a community that supports each other. “We’ve had a very strange few years and it was comforting to know that ADAWA was with us every step of the way and advocating for us,” she says. “There’s a lot of ‘behind the scenes’ that we don’t see, but they make everything a lot easier for our community.”
As a student, recent graduate Dr Charles Tricoli says the ADAWA team is always interested in the progression of the dental students.
“They constantly remained in contact with our student body, ensuring we were learning all of the important fundamentals of dentistry, and organised some additional lectures to provide us with some real, ethical, case-based learning to help apply our knowledge,” Charles says. “In our final year, ADAWA organised a Graduate Guide that displayed the entire Class of 2021 to all dentists in WA, and this helped many of my classmates find dentist positions to start 2022.
“ADAWA also held ‘Welcome to the Profession’ dinner late last year, which served as not only a celebration of our graduation, but also as a handy networking opportunity with a range of clinicians and specialists.”
Charles says becoming an ADAWA member was an easy decision. “I personally decided to join because of the support I had received as a student, especially from David Hallett, who went out of his way to review employment contracts and organise extra talks about the transition to public and private practice,” Charles says. “This made me feel that ADAWA would equally support me as a graduate dentist, and also provide further learning opportunities through CPD courses, including the New Practitioner Program that I have begun attending this year.
“Being a member of ADAWA always reminds me that dentistry is a professional career and a privilege that only a select group of people have the opportunity to pursue,” he adds. “Knowing that I am part of an organisation with members that all share a common interest in dental health highlights the importance of our career to the wider community.”
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